Thursday, June 30, 2011

Between the jigs and the reels

Image from dancenet

At a dance with her partner on Cape Breton, Maureen was embracing her Scottish heritage. When they got tired, they went outside to have a short rest and a breath of air.

But someone followed, demanding they return. "It's your jig," they were told. "Come on. The others are waiting for you."

Now part of Canada's heritage, these dances and the music to accompany them were brought originally by the Scots to Cape Breton, and by the Irish to Newfoundland.

After my mother, a Newfoundlander, "came west" with my father in her mid-thirties, she lost neither her accent nor her Newfy sayings.

If she planned to get something done, or failed to, on a busy day, it was "between the jigs and the reels" that she managed it, or didn't.

After Mom passed away, I didn't think about this expression for a long time. When I went to see Riverdance for the first time (I was in my forties then), I thought about the names of the dances and the music of the old Celtic nations. That was when I finally clued in.

Jigs and reels were musical and dance numbers. What Mom had to fit in to her busy days had to be done in the space of time allowed between two dances.

But how long was the pause between the jigs and the reels? Not very long, if Maureen's story is anything to go by.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this new-to-me idiom.

    Do you have family in Newfoundland?